Network's commentary of errors

Network's commentary of errors

THERE are two things you need to remember when you're commentating on the opening ceremony of an Olympic Games.

The first is to read from the notes without sounding like you're reading from the notes. The second is not to blow the twist.

Scripted ... Eddie McGuire.

Scripted ... Eddie McGuire.

On both counts, in an otherwise reasonable telecast, Nine's hosts Eddie McGuire and Leila McKinnon failed. No one could reasonably expect a TV host to memorise enough detail to cover hundreds of nations across hours of television, but the devil is clearly in the detail.

Skilled broadcasters disguise the mountains of pre-printed notes with conversational banter. McGuire sounded mostly like he was reading slabs of text off the page.


And McKinnon, in an extraordinary oversight, gave away the pre-filmed insert which featured the Queen meeting Britain's iconic fictional secret agent James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, in the moments before it was revealed.

That twist was a major part of the opening ceremony, significant because it was the first time a reigning monarch has played herself in a piece of scripted fiction.

A campaign in Britain fought hard to protect the reveal of the Queen's involvement, even turning to the spoiler-rich Twitter and asking it, in hashtag form, to #savethesecret.

Live television is difficult at best, so to some extent we can forgive the obvious stumbles, such as referring to Captain Hook as Captain Cook, bursts of nonsense, such as ''a peloton of potential,'' in reference to future Olympians who lit the cauldron.

The good news is that the estimated global audience of 4 billion were mostly spared. Partly because they didn't see Channel Nine, but mainly because it's highly unlikely 4 billion people actually watched it. A more accurate figure would be about 200 million to 300 million.

Ratings: Australians brave a cold morning

The opening ceremony of the London Olympics confirmed Australia's love of sport in all its forms, with more than two million people across the country braving a cold dawn to watch it on TV.

Nine's telecast drew 2.41 million viewers across the entire four hour ceremony. In the ceremony's final moments, when the Olympic cauldron was lit, it rose to almost three million viewers.

Nine replayed it later to a national audience of 1.81 million.

The national ratings figures include the capital city OzTAM figures and regional figures from RegTAM.


The ceremony is also available as an on-demand replay on Foxtel, with an alternative commentary, from Rove McManus, Tracey Holmes and Matt Shirvington.

Michael Idato

Michael Idato is a Senior Writer based in Los Angeles for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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